In recent years, the way customers interact with different brands has become more intriguing. The typical 21st century customer is more informed and empowered than ever. Therefore, for brands to connect successfully with consumers, they must ensure their identity, behaviours, business practices, and activities have an ethical impact on society.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) came to public notice due to an increase in unethical and socially irresponsible business practices and activities by some global brands.
Consumers are demanding that brands deliver exceptional products and services while still upholding high ethical standards. Corporate Social Responsibility has become a mandatory requirement in the Branding of various companies. According to the Reputation Institute, 42 percent of how consumers feel about a company is based on the firm's CSR activities.
Consumers are more likely to buy a socially responsible brand’s products, act as their brand ambassadors, and leave positive reviews. It means businesses with the best CSR initiatives will garner more substantial support. Thus, it is essential to have a concrete understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility and Branding and how one affects the other.
According to the World Business Council, CSR is defined as the continuing commitment of businesses to behave ethically and contribute to the economic development of society while improving the quality of life of their workforce and their families, the local community, and society at large.
Different brands have found common ground on which they have developed key strategies and developments on the concept. We may break down CSR into the following categories:
In this way, brands show their consumers that they are willing to adhere to and help the right causes, even without financial rewards.
Donating to matters, ideas, and the aspirations of local communities show that the brand cares about issues that may resonate with their consumers.
Ethical Labour Practice:
Treatment of workers and employees ethically and reasonably forms the core concept of social care.
These are the methods businesses adopt to limit their negative impact on the world, such as reducing their carbon footprint during production.
It is clear that CSR efforts are being ramped up worldwide, and many brands have confirmed that to have an advantage over others, they must earn the respect of their customers.
CSR is the most sustainable way to attract positive attention and add value to a brand. According to the two surveys conducted by Economic Times in August and November 2014, in terms of Brand Value and CSR activities, most of the companies that topped the brand value survey have the best programmes for CSR activities, e.g., Maruti Suzuki Mahindra group, TATA group.
Mahindra Group has been ranked one of best brands in 2021 due to their CSR programmes which include: education, environment, community development, health, safety, security, resource and energy conservation, women empowerment, skill empowerment, and livelihood generation.
The relationship between CSR and Branding is so strong because of the concept of awareness. It means that if a company is known for its CSR activities, its brand value will be more than its competitors. And one of the most common ways to generate sustainable brand value from social responsibility is for brands to be transparent in their business activities. (Image credit: Mahindra World City)
Recently, there has been a massive increase in the connectivity among consumers and openness of information in the global business world. Today's consumers are highly attuned to whether the brands they support are socially responsible or not. Sustained CSR will give your brand the power to stand out in a competitive market and connect deeper with your customers, ensuring long-term loyalty and brand advocacy.
The efforts shown by brands are surely noticed by consumers; companies cannot hide and claim that nobody is watching their actions. Consumers also want to influence society positively by supporting brands that are considered socially responsible. They are willing to become unofficial brand ambassadors for these brands and promote these brands' products. If a brand wants to succeed in the market, it should make being socially responsible part of its objectives.